L.A. Supervisor Who Was Measure B Foe Became AHF Target

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — Just days after Los Angeles County voters approved Measure B in 2012, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein wrote in an email to an AHF employee that it was time to square off against Zev Yaroslavsky because the Los Angeles County supervisor was the real power behind its "problems," including its problems with porn.

That revelation was made this week in a footnote attached to a federal judge’s ruling that declined to offer any relief to the AHF, which had sued Los Angeles County officials over claims of using audits of its health service contracts to retaliate against it for criticizing the county and advocating for policies county leaders opposed.

Despite a huge victory after the county's voters decided for the “Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act" that requires the use of condoms in the production of adult movies in Los Angeles County, Weinstein charged ahead.

"It is time to take the gloves off," Weinstein wrote to the AHF employee. "We need to go after Zev [Yaroslavsky] directly and hard. He is the real power behind our problems with the county on porn, the audit and fee-for-service. Plus he is a lame duck and an arrogant jerk. His Berman-Waxman power base is dead and he and others need to be taught a lesson. The voters are with us.

Weinstein went on to say in the Nov. 16, 2012, email that the "next phase is to call for [Los Angeles County Health Department Director Jonathan] Fielding and Mario [Perez, the head of the county's STI programs] to step down."

"This needs to be coordinated with our legal strategy," Weinstein continued in the email. "I want to go to court much sooner than later. I am tired of us being on defense. We have little to lose considering how unreasonable they have been."

The footnote written by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who ruled in the county's favor this week, has fueled an even larger fire between the AHF, the county and the adult entertainment industry.

Anderson noted in her ruling that it was apparent to the court that the AHF brought on the lawsuit  "in an effort to obtain a tactical advantage in their ongoing political battles" with Los Angeles County.

Steven Hirsch, the co-founder of adult entertainment giant Vivid Entertainment whose company along with co-plaintiffs Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce are challenging enforcement of Measure B, said that Weinstein's words and actions reverb with familiarity.

"This is typical of the bullying that Michael Weinstein loves to engage in," Hirsch told XBIZ on Thursday. "For a man who knows absolutely nothing about the adult industry he sure does seem oddly obsessed with it."

Hirsch likely will be in the courtroom next month when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears Vivid Entertainment's challenge over Measure B.

Vivid Entertainment attorneys are seeking for the 9th Circuit to dump the district court's earlier finding over its request for a preliminary injunction over Measure B and toss AHF as intervenors in the appeal.

Hirsch said that he and his company's counsel are focused on the March 3 hearing, slated at the 9th Circuit's remote courtroom in Pasadena, Calif. 

"We expect some good news soon after," Hirsch said.

Diane Duke, CEO of the Free Speech Coalition, echoed Hirsch's statements about Weinstein.

"I think this shows that Weinstein is more than willing to abuse power to bully people who don't agree with him," Duke told XBIZ. "We haven't had an on-set transmission of HIV since 2004, and yet he's spent tens of millions of dollars pursuing something neither the performers nor the public wants, in what amounts to a moral crusade against the adult industry."

Yaroslavsky, meanwhile, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that Weinstein has been "shown to be a thug" even though the nonprofit has benefited greatly from its partnership with the county. The AHF has nine contracts with the county, netting the nonprofit approximately $11.4 million over the next year for services rendered.

"He's used his nonprofit organization in a crass and bullying political way to get his way, which is to avoid being held accountable," said Yaroslavsky, who all along has been a Measure B foe.

Shortly after Yaroslavsky made his comments about Weinstein acting as a thug, the AHF leader lashed out at the county supervisor and said the AHF would appeal the ruling at the 9th Circuit.

"We would not have gotten to where we are today if we hadn't fought like hell on behalf of our clients and our mission," Weinstein told the Times. "Anyone who attends virtually any Tuesday Board of Supervisors meeting knows who the thug is."

Weinstein told XBIZ on Thursday that he expects the 9th Circuit to uphold the constitutionality of Measure B.

See federal court order in AHF's case against Los Angeles County